Many players find it difficult to play against long pimples (also known as long pips). The ball is returned in very different, seemingly unpredictable ways than they are used to and it completely throws them off.
However, playing against long pips is a lot simpler than playing against inverted rubbers if you know what you’re doing.
Long pips cannot produce their own spin, and thus, you can dictate the game against any player using them. If you play with the right tactics, beating long pips is actually pretty simple.
This guide will prepare you with the best tactics and techniques to beat every long pips player you come across, regardless of their style.
Table of Contents
How do long pimples work?
The first step to beating long pips is to understand how they work. You could even learn to play with them using our guide to playing with long pimples.
To beat long pips, you need to know how they react to different spins and work your tactics around that. You should treat playing against a player with long pips as a completely different thing from playing someone with any standard inverted rubbers.
For most players, long pips will confuse them at first. They just won’t understand why the ball is acting so weirdly. It has happened to all of us and it’s really frustrating.
Many will complain that the rubber produces unpredictable spins, but in fact, they couldn’t be further from the truth.
Long pips rubbers work in an opposite way compared to rubbers. Inverted rubbers grip onto the ball and they reverse the spin on the ball.
For example, if you’re playing a topspin to topspin rally, every time you hit the ball, the rubber will grip it and put your topspin onto it.
Long pips are said to reverse the spin on the ball, but they actually maintain it. It’s just that the ball travels in the opposite direction with the same spin.
If you think about it, when you hit a topspin shot, and when you receive a backspin shot, the ball is always spinning in the same direction: in the direction of your opponent.
Thus, if the spin is maintained, but the direction is changed, it would seem like the spin is reversed, right?
This is what long pimples do. You will receive the ball with the opposite spin you initially hit it with. That means if you play a topspin shot to a player with long pips, it’s going to come back with an equal amount of backspin.
In reality, the ball always has the same spin, but it travels in a different direction, so it’d seem like long pips reverse spin when they actually maintain it.
Once you wrap your head around this concept, you’ll see spin in a whole different way.
This reason is why you shouldn’t use sidespin against long pips. If you hit sidespin shots against them, the result will be sidespin in the opposite direction and it’ll confuse you without any real benefits.
Since long pips “reverse” spin, they are not unpredictable. In fact, they are much more predictable than inverted rubbers.
Players with inverted rubbers have grippy rubbers that can generate any spin they want, so they can hit all kinds of different shots.
Players with long pips are limited to reversing the spin you put on the ball, so if you are smart with your tactics, beating them is much simpler than it seems.
That’s what we are here for! Now that you understand how long pips work, we will tell you the best tactics to beat players with these quirky rubbers.
The most effective tactics against long pips
You want to keep things as simple as possible. If you play in a methodical, ordered way, there is no way the long pips player will beat you.
Base strategy against long pips
The basic strategy you need to know to beat long pips players is to alternate topspins with pushes. Essentially, play 1 topspin and 1 push. This is the simplest and most effective tactic for beating long pips players.
Playing long pips is like dancing the waltz. Both dancing and playing long pips have a series of repetitive steps you need to understand.
Once you get that pattern down, it’s just a matter of repeating it over and over until you win the point.
This tactic works because when you hit the ball with topspin, it will come back to you with backspin. This is a really hard ball to attack due to the large amounts of spin.
Then, you will push that backspin ball and the next one is going to come back as no-spin or slight topspin. That ball you can attack safely, and if it comes back, you push the ball again.
The 1 topspin 1 push tactic is very safe and works wonders against virtually all players with long pips.
Also, this allows you to reset the point whenever you want. If you’re on a forehand topspin to topspin rally, you can just play to their long pips and start the cycle again to negate the long pips player’s attack.
If you don’t make mistakes, the long pip player is going to find themselves in a cycle of trying to return your attacks.
If you don’t miss the table, you basically have an unlimited amount of opportunities to win the point. Players with long pips rarely attack to win points as that’s a high-risk strategy with their racket.
Placement and depth
The placement you want to use is basically aiming wide to both corners, trying to force errors from your opponent by getting them off-balance.
If you’re playing a long pip blocker who stands in the middle of the table and tries to block every ball with their long pips, play to their wide forehand or their wide backhand.
It is very difficult for them to cover the corners since they’re standing in the middle.
If the ball goes to their wide backhand it will be very difficult for them to move their racket quickly and cover it.
If it goes to their wide forehand, some will try to hit it with the pips, but they will have little control as it is an unnatural position.
Others will block your shot with their forehand, and then you can attack that block.
The depth you want to use is to play as deep as you can. Since they are blockers, these players will try to contact the ball as it’s rising.
The deeper you play, the more you will push them off the table, making them lose their ideal blocking position.
Against choppers, try to determine what their weakest side is.
Some choppers chop on the backhand side and loop on the forehand side, others chop on both sides but chop better on one side over the other (most choppers are more comfortable chopping on their backhand side).
You can try and see what side you feel most comfortable playing towards and play the match mostly through that side.
The safe choice is to play towards the long pips and do the base strategy of one topspin and one push.
The difference in tactics against choppers is that you don’t want to play all your shots deep on the table.
Choppers want you to play deep to just sit there and chop away.
Therefore, against them, try to play one deep ball (usually the topspin) and a short ball (usually the push or a drop shot).
This will drive them in and out of the table, and they will never be comfortable, leading to many mistakes since they will have to be constantly moving while setting up their shots.
Notice how drawing the chopper into the table helps set up more effective attacks. It enables the attacker to find more effective angles to attack.
In the service department, it is best to serve 80-90% long to their backhand side and 10-20% short to their forehand side.
This way of serving is recommended since you always guarantee that you will be able to play the basic strategy.
10-20% of serves will be played short on their forehand side to keep them on their toes.
If you mostly serve long towards their backhand, 1 or 2 out of 10 serves short to the forehand will catch them off guard and they won’t be able to predict accurately the placement of every serve.
Another thing you can do is see if they struggle with long serves to their forehand side.
Lots of blockers who stand in the middle of the table have trouble dealing with long fast serves to their forehand side as they will either try to hit it with their pips or block it with inverted.
Either way, it’s perfect for you.
As for the spin, most coaches recommend serving backspin. When playing against beginner-intermediate long pips players, no-spin serves are also highly effective as they can’t generate their own strong returns.
However, I wouldn’t say that serving backspin is necessarily the best option in all scenarios.
You see, if you serve backspin, you will receive a topspin ball, but if your opponent is good at attacking with long pips, they can play down the line or attack you with a backhand punch.
There are going to be times when your opponent knows how to hit against backspin. In these cases, I recommend serving topspin, to prevent them from attacking.
If your opponent is not good at hitting against backspin, I recommend serving 50% backspin and 50% no-spin on the long serves.
If you do this, the long pips player will dump the backspin serves into the net and pop up the no spin ones. You will always have easy balls to attack.
However, if you feel confident with your open-ups, feel free to serve topspin and set up an open-up or a long push to then attack the following ball.
The main takeaway is that you can get any type of ball you want.
If you want topspin, serve backspin. If you want backspin, serve topspin. Simple as that.
Receiving is also quite simple.
Whatever spin your opponent puts on the ball, just try to return it to your opponent’s long pips with as little spin of your own as possible.
If your opponent serves backspin, then push to the long pips and attack the next ball.
If your opponent serves topspin, drive the ball to the long pips and push the next ball.
These simple tactics are the key to beating long pips. Long pips are only going to win if you mess up. If you’re sure of what you’re doing, you will win.
3 pro tips to beat long pimple players
To help you beat long pips, I will tell you 3 very useful secrets. These are relatively simple but powerful technical resources that can swing the match in your favor.
These tips complement the tactics and they come in handy when used in the right context.
Players with long pips, especially choppers, are always thinking about what shots we’re going to play.
They automatically look at our body position and our racket angle to move preemptively and react correctly to every ball.
If we feint to play a different shot, they’re going to have no idea what we’re going to do next. It makes their timing and positioning significantly more difficult, and feinting is not that hard to do.
A very good and simple feint to do is to feint an attack and then push.
This is one of my secrets when it comes to beating long pips players. The attack feint is the easiest and you can earn a lot of cheap points doing it.
It also keeps choppers accountable and they won’t be able to move before we hit the ball.
Notice how feinting an attack creates an instant of doubt in the defender, draws him into the table, and helps set up powerful smashes.
Another very effective feint is the placement feint.
Long pips players predict where the ball is going to go by looking at our wrists.
If they didn’t predict the placement of our shots, they would have no way of blocking as many shots as they do.
They can’t just rely on their reflexes. They also use their instincts, which we can exploit.
If you pretend you’re going to hit the ball towards one place and hit it towards the opposite, you’re going to catch lots of long pips players off guard.
This feint is also super useful against players who twiddle. Twiddling is flipping your racket over to hit the ball with the opposite rubber.
Some players will twiddle their racket when you push deep towards their backhands, and they’ll push the ball with their inverted rubbers so that you never get an easy topspin ball.
A great tactic is to feint that you will push to their backhands, they will twiddle to their inverted rubber, and then you can play to their forehand, where they will now have the long pips.
This feint will make them think twice about twiddling and it really hinders their timing.
Here is a video demonstrating the placement feint.
This feint is also famous for being used by Timo Boll to gain a spectacular point against defender Chen Weixing. Even Chen couldn’t help but clap!
Know when to flat hit the ball
The second tip I want to give you is to flat hit the ball every once in a while.
For long pips, flat hits are quite difficult to return, as they force the long pips player to generate their own quality on the ball. This leads to lots of unforced errors.
Most of the time the ball is going to contact the long pips and fly out.
That is why we recommend that whenever you have a high ball or an opportunity to flat hit the ball safely, you take advantage of it because it is practically a free point.
Play drop shots
Playing drop shots is essential to beating choppers. This will enable you to play different depths.
If you sometimes attack deep on the table and sometimes play drop shots, you will have the chopper moving all over the place, which will cause them to make lots of mistakes.
However, it’s important you feel confident playing quality drop shots as a slightly mistimed drop shot gives your opponent enough time to step in and attack a high ball.
Alvaro’s been playing Table Tennis since he was 15 and is now ranked within the top 200 in his native Argentina. He loves to compete in provincial tournaments and is always looking for ways to improve. Alvaro made his favourite memories with a racket in hand, and he joined the RacketInsight team to share his passion with other players!